Social Networking and Books

I know I have said this before, but it warrants bringing up again. Social Networking for all of the potential ills and the addictive nature of it can be an awesome tool in the hands of a publisher, author or even a reader. If it had not been for Twitter I might have missed authors like Mark Henry, Carrie Ryan, Cindy Pon, Cherie Priest and a host of others. At the very least my introduction to several of the book reviewing blogs like Wicked Lil Pixie, Bitten by Books and QQwill have exposed me to an array of authors I may not have noticed sitting on the shelf.

The reason I bring this up today is the number of blog related contests and “what if” discussions that have been coming up lately. Also after watching Amber Benson’s vlog on Bitten by Books I was working out the list of things that would need to happen for me to be able to work video from Romantic Times this year. A Rock Band party is just begging for video clips.

Also, if you are a fan of her writing (or her acting from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) you should stop on over to the discussion of Amber’s latest book Cat’s Claw and watch her videos. Also today there is another Q&A going on for Mario Acevedo who writes the Felix Gomez series. I know there are a few of you that are wondering why you should go over there and check it out. Other than a huge Q&A session going on through comments on the posting what are you going to get? Stuff!

Many of these places and even some of the author blogs run contests to give away free stuff. I won my ARC (advanced reader copy) of Battle of the Network Zombies through a contest at Bitten by Books so was able to read it about 4 months prior to the release. Through author blogs I have won other books and even started my Geobooking page based off of one. If you have not checked it out yet, please do. I am looking to give Mark of the Demon some more travel time.

One of the prizes Amber is giving away is really geared towards the aspiring writer, but not all of them are. Many of them are for books from other authors, signed books from the author, or even gift cards to a bookstore. For a current example, Jaye Wells is giving away a copy of Blood of the Demon, Diana Rowland’s sequel to the Mark of the Demon that is being used in my Geobooking experiment. Both Jaye’s books and Diana’s are great reads, so you might want to check those out.

During the course of the next couple of days, I will expand my blogroll to include most of the sites I am finding most helpful in getting into new authors. A good majority of them will be Horror, Urban Fatasy, Paranormal Romance and Young Adult. You have been warned.

If you notice above I have started a 50 book challenge in addition to getting my own manuscript shopped out. I challenge any of you to shoot for half of that. Twenty five books is roughly two a month. We are starting in the third month, but it is possible. And try someone new.

If you haven’t read the line yet, consider Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry. This is the final countdown on the Save Amanda Campaign and I will be announcing my own contest for it soon. In other words, stay tuned! 😉

Geek in Review – Battle of the Network Zombies

February is the opening of the League of Reluctant Adults floodgates. Like the poor little Dutch boy who could no longer keep his finger in the dike, the raging waves of Leaguer books are heading to stores come February 23rd. The one I am probably most excited about (with apologies to the other authors) is Battle of the Network Zombies by Mark Henry. This is the third book in the Amanda Feral series that shows us the seedy underside of the Supernatural Seattle. Unfortunately from time to time it shows us other “seedy undersides” as well.

Back in November, in the midst of the insanity that was Nanowrimo, I received the ARC of the book I won through a contest on Bitten by Books. National Novel Writing Month or not, I was not going to wait to read this book. I also wrote a review of it that unfortunately never saw publication. I used the basis of that for this review – most definitely I kept the tag line for it. But that will have to wait.

If you are not familiar with the Amanda Feral series, I suggest picking up Happy Hour of the Damned. It is the first in the series and explains a lot of the world and the characters. Also, it just released earlier this week in mass market paperback so is only $6.99. If you are located in Southern Wisconsin and want to get your copies of Mark Henry’s books personalized, signed and possibly have dirty stick figures drawn in them (his words, not mine), then contact me and I can do that for you in the end of April. Seriously, he told me to bring a whole suitcase full of them and I will make sure he is at least two drinks in before he signs any of them.

Also, any purchases made of either Happy Hour of the Damned or Battle of the Network Zombies will help towards the Save Amanda campaign. With the economy the way it has been, trade paperback sales have been deadly – more so than our favorite snarky zombie socialite. If the mass market sales and the initial sales of Battle of the Network Zombies do not show promise, there may be no book four. And from everything I have heard, we all will want to see a book four.

I suppose I should hop down off this soapbox and produce an actual review of the book for you. I will include some links at the bottom where you can go to join in on other contests involving the Save Amanda campaign. But for now let’s talk Supernatural Reality Television.

This book focuses on two things, Amanda’s need for money and her love of the celebrity lifestyle. Let’s face it, she is a high maintenance girl – mortuary grade make-up isn’t the only thing a zombie needs to keep herself from looking a little green around the edges. And those psycho little Reapers are not cheap. Don’t let the Shirley Temple look fool you, they cannot be paid in gumdrops and Barbie dolls! From the start of the book, Amanda deals with both of these needs by signing on for one of Mark Henry’s obsessions – a reality television show. (Seriously, an intervention might be in order.)

Amanda joins the cast of a show to pick out a bodyguard for a rather raunchy nature spirit that feels he needs protection – in the form of a busty female supernatural. Well, for the most part. The cast of characters in the show ranges from a drag queen werewolf (probably one of my favorite characters in the book), an oriental floating head and guts style vampire nail tech to a pair of drunken sirens. All just lining up to be judged by Amanda, the Simon of the show.

If the first two books showed anything it is this. In addition to all of the characters being damaged way before they became monsters, nothing in Amanda’s life ever goes according to plan. The whole story is an amazing roller coaster ride and is way more raunchy than either of the first two books. That is not to say it is bad though. Quite to the contrary, it is freeing to see Amanda and Mark both really open up in this book and let loose. Of course this is at the cost of me ever eating corn on the cob again. Ever!

One of the strangest things about this book is that there really is no “protagonist” to the story. Amanda is the main character, but she is a monster. She does not wax emo over the fact that she has to kill to survive. She will eat your face off and only apologize for the clothes you are wearing or your hideous makeup job. Yet still, with all of these monsters who are out on the prowl eating defenseless people, you still get invested in the story – you still care about the characters. Even when they are being seriously gross.

If you enjoy dark humor along the lines of the movie Heathers, this is definitely the book for you. Although I would start at the first book, you will want to pick up the other two. If you are not into some of the more gross aspects of the undead lifestyle, this book might bother you but I don’t think it will detract you from the story enough to enjoy it. My wife has read the first two and loved them even though she is not into “gross horror stuff.” Simply put, Battle of the Network Zombies is similar to dislocating your shoulder during sex – it is really uncomfortable in spots, but you are enjoying yourself too much to stop.

I feel totally safe in giving this book a solid A. Five out of five dancing zombies. You name the scale, and this will top it. It is fun, wild and disturbing in the most crazy awesome ways. Definitely worth the price of admission, which brings me to the other offers and contests revolving around the book.

Amberkatze’s Blog – Guest Blog and Contest with Mark Henry

You can go there and read the discussion on the books, Mark’s rockstar lifestyle and enter to win copies of his books. All just for asking questions, pointing other people towards the blog or purchasing copies of his other books!

The Qwillery – Author Comments and Photoshop Funnies

Go to the Qwillery you can enter to win a copy of Happy Hour of the Damned and a Zombie Rubber Duckie – just for leaving a comment!

If any more pop up and are still current I will add them to the list. Otherwise, besides my offer to get your books personalized, you can purchase online from the University of Washington book store and request in the notes of your order to have him personalize it. Otherwise, get them to me by April.

Save Amanda!

The Right Words at the Right Time

Consider this a partial thought from my Save Amanda Feral post and a partial end of the year wrap up for the Year of the Edgar. Not familiar with the Year of the Edgar? Pop on over to his site and check out some of the things he has posted on it. The Cliffs Notes version of it is to do the things you have always wanted to do. Been putting off attempting Nanowrimo? Make a solid effort at it. Always wanted to learn to play Dungeons and Dragons? Get a game going even if you do not stick with it – at least you gave it a shot.

So why the “right words at the right time” with that as the springboard? For those of you not personally associated to me, around 4 or 5 years ago I suffered a spinal injury. For over a year after the surgery I was walking with a cane. End result was that the pain was controlled without medication but I would likely need the cane.

While doing some geneology in the Boston area we stopped in to visit a great-aunt. My father asked her how she was doing commenting that she seemed to be getting around. Her answer was short and blunt. “If you stop moving you die.” She was walking without a cane at 90.

I am not a terribly religious person, but in addition to being an optomist I honestly believe that the universe provides me with what I need at any given moment. And at that moment I needed a 90 year old great aunt to shame me into vowing to give up the cane. That was exactly what I needed to hear.

Several years later, when the alternator when out in the QuinJetta (my Jetta wagon), I was able to push it through the intersection on my own. Once across two people helped me get it up into the parking lot I was aiming for. Something I would not have been able to do while I was still using the cane.

Don’t get me wrong. I still hurt on pretty much a daily basis, but if you stop moving you die. So it is better than the alternative.

That brings me to the latest set of words I needed to hear. The ones that link this post to my Save Amanda Feral post. November is a tough month for me due to hunting season, Nanowrimo and all of our major sports going at once. In a rather rare display for me I had a bad day. I mean a really bad day. The kind of day where you are sure your writing is never going to be good enough to be published and you have no idea why you are doing what you are doing with life. One of those bad days that I hardly ever had.

A random post through Twitter came through with, “If you were sure you would succeed at anything today, what would you do?” My answer was fairly simple. What wouldn’t I do? I could begin with a simple list…

  • Write the next Harry Potter so I could afford to be a full time writer and let my wife retire early.
  • Move to Seattle where most of the UF writers I read are and where my wife would be estatic (she loves Seattle and the mountains).
  • Get back down to my college weight (which would do wonders for my back and ability to work out).
  • Complete my black belt classes.

I am sure there are more, but you get the idea. Live like you know you will succeed at whatever you do. One person I had discussed this with had told me, “There is no way you can be sure you will succeed at everything.” My answer to them is that there was no way they could be sure I wouldn’t.

I still have my doubts about getting published, but from what I hear that is part of what makes you an author. 😉

I am going to offer one caveat here. If any of that list would require that one of the authors that I read and admire needs to lose one of the items on their list, I would gladly give up mine to see their list item stick. Not that I really believe that any of the lists have direct impact on the others, but you get the idea. That brings me to the Save Amanda Feral campaign.

I am a smart-ass. It is a dominant gene in my family it seems. Which means I love the snark. I also love the zombies. Which means Amanda Feral is spot on for me. I think the series is intelligent and funny. Don’t take my word for it though. Pick up the first book and see if you like it. If you are local to me ask and I may loan out my copy of Happy Hour of the Damned (if it is not already on loan to someone). If you like it, do me a favor and purchase the second one – Road Trip of the Living Dead. You will liekly need to special order it or purchase it online. If you order from the University of Washington book store you can request a signed copy and he will pop over to personalize it. If you need any information on your options, comment below and I will get you the specifics.

The whole series is sick, twisted and funny as hell and I would like nothing more than to see them continue. Honestly I really need to see how this group feeds on a cruise ship without raising suspicions.

One person can change the world, but only with a little help from his friends. So, friends – go out and help us change the world in one delightfully twisted way. 😉

Another November Come and Gone

You know how you can tell it is December? When your wife looks at you and says, “So do I get my husband back now?” For those of you wondering – yes, that was a direct quote from last night.

Allow me to explain. My wife allows me to participate in Nanowrimo because she knows it makes me happy. Exhausted and insane, but happy. She supports me even though it means most nights I will be in a coffee shop writing instead of at home. She supports it even though coffee is expensive and we eat out more than we normally do that month. What I was reminded of last night is that she is also as relieved as I am when the month is over.

Lucky for me Sunday night she was still up in Wild Rose due to a business meeting in Sturgeon Bay on Monday. She didn’t get to see me staying up most of the night to meet my goal for the month.

I will be blogging a bit more frequently now, but let’s throw up a small recap of the month…

  • read Battle of the Network Zombies by Mark Henry
  • wrote a review of Battle of the Network Zombies that will hopefully post soon (mental note to check on that)
  • wrote just over 51,000 words over the course of 30 days
  • found out things about my main character in my WIP that will likely change that piece
  • discovered electric streetlights were installed in Madison in 1921
  • the building that houses the Italian Workman’s Club was built in 1921
  • before 1921 the Italian Workman’s Club met in someone’s garage
  • saw no deer except when driving home at night during gun season
  • drank a whole lot of coffee
  • found some help from people that likely had no idea they were helping me

The end result is a renewed resolve to complete the final revision on my WIP and then likely work on the next. I might consider working on the 1921 version of the story I did for Nanowrimo, but we shall see.

Save Amanda FeralIn lieu of another blurp about the contest at the Enchanted Inkpot, let me draw your attention to the Save Amanda Feral campaign. If you are unfamiliar with Mark Henry’s books Happy Hour of the Damned and Road Trip of the Living Dead, they are a couple of my favorites. It has intelligence, snark, dark humor and monsters. I am talking honest to goodness monsters that will eat your face off just because they are hungry and not brood over it all emo like with GQ hairstyles. (Well, Gil might have the hair, but not the emo bit.)